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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
McKague, Binks, Oommen and MacKenzie all claim gold
by Randy Pascal

Eleven year old Liam Binks was going to use any means at his disposal in order to achieve his goal of capturing the Junior Boys division at the Rainbow Board Elementary Cross-Country Championships Wednesday in Falconbridge.

In the end, the experience of 2016 combined with a pre-race site visit did the trick as the grade six student at Alexander Public School added a board title to his first place finishes, earlier this fall, at invitational events at both Adanac and Larchwood.

"Last year, I ran this race and came in third, but I didn't use all of my energy at the end," said Binks. "I was going the same pace throughout the race. Now I picked up the pace and was able to get first."

Though the meet would take place at the very same venue that has hosted the championships for the past several years, Binks was able to gain one more "lay of the land" a little closer to the big day.

"I actually came here last week and checked out the course," said Binks. "Based on that, I knew where I wanted to start sprinting. I was about 500 metres ahead, people were saying, but when I looked back, I thought I was about 200 metres."

Like Binks, junior girls champion Isabel McKague also won her age bracket at both Adanac and Larchwood. And like Binks, she used prior Falconbridge race experience as a key part of her strategy in the 2017 showdown.

"This is my second year at the race," noted the 10 year old grade six student at R.L. Beattie. "I knew that the hill was harder, and I knew that if I finished the hill, then the hardest part of my race was done."

Also an avid basketball talent, McKague provided a very thorough recollection of her triumphant performance. "Usually for the first 10 or 15 seconds, I'm in the top 20, or top ten," she said. "Then, I get my way into the top five. Today, at the very beginning, I was in third place."

"Another girl from my school was in second. Her and another girl were in front of me, so I went around them and around the pylons. You don't want to slow yourself down when you're in front. Maybe other people might stop, but you can't stop, because then people can pass you, so it's a little bit harder."

Senior girls gold medal winner Sophia Oommen followed a similar strategy, running from the front of the pack, almost from the sound of the gun, as she improved on her previous best third place finish at Adanac.

"Once I started good, I kept the lead and didn't let anybody pass me," stated the 12 year old grade 7 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. "You don't want to look back, because that slows you down. I was trying to get top two."

Benefitting from a close familiarity with her primary adversaries on this day, Oommen was more than comfortable that she could remain in the mix. "When we practice at school, me and Aoife (Mahaffy) are usually tied," she said, as Lo-Ellen athletes swept the top three spots. "She came in not much after me. She always beat me in the other races."

No race, however, was quite as close as the Senior Boys' affair, as the Valley East tandem of Ian MacKenzie (Confederation) and Carson Crane (Valley View) went stride for stride.

"I was expecting he would give me quite a bit of competition, but I wasn't expecting that hard," acknowledged MacKenzie, also an avid triathlete. "He just killed me. From the bush on, he never left me, even though I tried to get him to leave."

"I had a couple of points where I pushed and see where he would go, but he never left my side." That said, the near photo finish provided the talented youngster with a far geater sense of accomplishment in the end.

"I would probably say I would rather someone was pushing me than just being able to have cruise control," said MacKenzie. "I don't like winning too easily. I want Carson or people like that to push me."

Following are the top tne finishers from all four divisions:

Junior Girls
1st - Isabel McKague (R.L. Beattie)
2nd - Misaki Diavolistsis (Alexander)
3rd - Lauren Pineau (R.L. Beattie)
4th - Olivia McLean (R.H. Murray)
5th - Monique Fitzmaurice (R.L. Beattie)
6th - Emily Rainville (Valley View)
7th - Grace Thomas (R.L. Beattie)
8th - Savannah Swords (R.L. Beattie)
9th - Hayden Sulston (Valley View)
10th - Georgia Wilson (Valley View)
Team Champs - R.L. Beattie

Junior Boys
1st - Liam Binks (Alexander)
2nd - Cody Woods (Valley View)
3rd - Nolan Kuhlberg (R.L. Beattie)
4th - Adam Scott (Walden)
5th - Curtis Cunningham (Valley View)
6th - Callum Baron (Alexander)
7th - Hudson Crowder (R.L. Beattie)
8th - Sam Rice (MacLeod)
9th - Brock Batchelor (Valley View)
10th - Atom Thususka (Alexander)
Team Champs - R.L. Beattie

Senior Girls
1st - Sophia Oommen (Lo-Ellen)
2nd - Aoife Mahaffy (Lo-Ellen)
3rd - Gabby Alexander (Lo-Ellen)
4th - Jill Kusnierczyk (Alexander)
5th - Avery Sutherland (A.B. Ellis)
6th - Sierra Boyuk (Valley View)
7th - Emma Dawson (Nesbitt)
8th - Maike Purdon (MacLeod)
9th - Samantha Bourdon (Lo-Ellen)
10th - Peyton Brear (Churchill)
Team Champs - Lo-Ellen Park

Senior Boys
1st - Ian MacKenzie (Confederation)
2nd - Carson Crane (Valley View)
3rd - Liam Conlin (Copper Cliff)
4th - Marco Groulx (Lo-Ellen)
5th - Kohen Crane (Valley View)
6th - Wilson Farrow (Valley View)
7th - Owen Charles (Valley View)
8th - Adam Chebbi (Lo-Ellen)
9th - Marco Vallilee (MacLeod)
10th - Dax Mazzuchin (MacLeod)
Team - Valley View

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